60 minutes: Cold fusion is hot again

  • Thread starter kenewbie
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Main Question or Discussion Point

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4955212n

So, what should one make of this?

I would love to hear what people here with physics know-how think about both the people and the experiments.

k
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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The experiments, such as the one at SRI and other labs, remain very controversial. The present experiments produce no neutrons (considered a requirement for a successful experiment) and show up as a very tiny (if at all) excess amount of thermal heat in the electrolysis process. The "excess heat" could be just an instrumental error. Until cold fusion, with or without neutrons, can produce at least as much heat as the electrolysis electricity input, will remain controversial. Suppose such an experiment produced 1 watt of power (requiring perhaps 10's of watts of electrical input). If the reaction produced 10 MeV of energy per fusion reaction, that would mean 10-7 Coulombs number of fusion reactions (10-12 moles, or 2 million Curies) per second. What new isotopes would be produced, would they be radioactive, and at what level of concentration could they be detected?
 
  • #3
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Didn't they say they measured 24 times the input of energy as excess heat? That can't be an instrumental error, or they should consider getting some proper instruments :P .
 
  • #4
rcgldr
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The guy on 60 minutes wasn't sure it should be called "fusion". It wasn't clear what the internal reaction producing the heat was, or why it only "works" intermittenly.
 
  • #5
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Didn't they say they measured 24 times the input of energy as excess heat? That can't be an instrumental error, or they should consider getting some proper instruments :P .
I met a guy, not very wealthy, who had a dowsing rod he claimed could find gold down to 67 feet, but did not discover a 1 oz gold coin in my pocket. If someone had a process that had a 24:1 EROEI (energy recovered over energy in) ratio, I would keep very quiet until I had a patent. I think I'll wait on this one.
 
  • #6
mgb_phys
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Didn't they say they measured 24 times the input of energy as excess heat? That can't be an instrumental error, or they should consider getting some proper instruments :P .
It depends what they are counting as input energy.
You have a room full of computers, scopes, probes, magents etc consuming kWs, you inject a few microwatts of power into a sample and measure 24x as many microwatts coming out.
You better be really sure that you aren't leaking any power from all the rest of the gear, when you get more power out of the entire lab than you are putting in - then you can get excited.
 
  • #7
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It depends what they are counting as input energy.
You have a room full of computers, scopes, probes, magents etc consuming kWs, you inject a few microwatts of power into a sample and measure 24x as many microwatts coming out.
You better be really sure that you aren't leaking any power from all the rest of the gear, when you get more power out of the entire lab than you are putting in - then you can get excited.
There's an excellent point in there... They probably are in the microwatts. If it was anything significant, they would be skulking about in secret, not announcing it.
 
  • #8
ZapperZ
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There's something that smell to high heaven in the "60 Minutes" cold fusionland. First read the http://www.bobpark.org/" [Broken] about it.

Zz.
 
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  • #9
There also were no significant gamma rays found. When hydrogen fuses a large portion of the energy created will be in the form of gamma radiation. So to recap, no neutrons, no gamma radiation, variable output of "excessive energy". It is starting to sound like excessive noise in a poorly run experiment to me.
 
  • #10
russ_watters
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There's something that smell to high heaven in the "60 Minutes" cold fusionland. First read the http://www.bobpark.org/" [Broken] about it.

Zz.
Yellow "journalism" and even outright lies from 60 minutes!? I'm shocked! :bugeye: :rolleyes:

I do like the simplicity of the debunkings, though: if the experimenters are still alive, the experiment must have failed. Odd, that the possibility of success doesn't seem to scare these guys - do they even know what "fusion" is?
 
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  • #11
Vanadium 50
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Well, the True Believers would argue that they have discovered somethingf even more remarkable. For example, one claims that it shows that quantum mechanics is fundamentally wrong. Other don't seem to care about mechanism so long as their investors' checks clear.
 
  • #12
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I often pass by Peter Hagelstein's labs on my way to my own, and the doors are always closed. I used to wonder what was inside, given that (AFAIK) he gets very little funding and only has one grad student. I was walking by them last month and one of them was open, and what did I see? It was mostly empty, save for some books and some boxes. Possibly the saddest thing I've ever seen. Now, I think that the janitors were cleaning it, so it's possible that any equipment had been moved, but I doubt it.

Still, I've got to admit that the man has cojones. He's pursuing what he wants even if it makes him a pariah, and I guess that's what tenure's all about.
 
  • #13
Doc Al
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There's something that smell to high heaven in the "60 Minutes" cold fusionland.
I recall the first "cold fusion" go round twenty years ago. We were given explicit desk-to-desk memos forbidding us to attempt to duplicate the experiments in our labs or offices. :rolleyes:
 
  • #14
russ_watters
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Why was that?
 
  • #15
Doc Al
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Why was that?
Lest we radiate ourselves to cinders, I suppose. :wink: (Most of us got a good chuckle out of it.)
 
  • #16
I thought it was an ok story but I wanted more information.
Like what labs have replicated the results. Found the company Energetics Technologies they mentioned, they say Enea and Sri have replicated their results.
Here is a link if you want to know more.

go to the research page.
 
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  • #17
ZapperZ
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I thought it was an ok story but I wanted more information.
Like what labs have replicated the results. Found the company Energetics Technologies they mentioned, they say Enea and Sri have replicated their results.
Here is a link if you want to know more.

go to the research page.
Er... Fleishman and Pons also claimed to be able to replicate their results. And on a separate case, Teleyarkhan also claimed to be able to replicate his results. This is not what we mean by replicating the results that is convincing. It needs to be reproduced by other, independent groups, not within their own organization!

Zz.
 
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  • #18
Vanadium 50
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That site seems to be on the very border of crackpottery. If you look at the section entitled "myths", they say

Myth: No “hard evidence” supports the claims of cold fusion.
Fact: Convincing experimental evidence exists that charged particles, neutrons and transmutation products are created in the process of cold fusion, in addition to the excess heat.
and

Myth: Cold fusion is false because there are no significant neutrons. “There is no reason to think that the branching ratios would be different for cold fusion” than with hot fusion.
Fact: Cold fusion is not a colder form of hot fusion. The assumption that cold fusion should follow hot fusion branching ratios is erroneous.
Now, whether one agrees with those statements or not, I think one must agree they are logically inconsistent. Either neutrons are evidence for cold fusion, or absence of neutrons is evidence for no cold fusion. They can't have it both ways.
 
  • #19
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I thought it was an ok story but I wanted more information.
Like what labs have replicated the results. Found the company Energetics Technologies they mentioned, they say Enea and Sri have replicated their results.
Here is a link if you want to know more.

go to the research page.

I really doubt this is the same one mentioned in the 60 minutes interview.. The company mentioned in the interview is out of Isreal.. [deleted] is registered to some crackpot/scammer in New Jersey. ... which is that new age garbage.
 
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  • #20
ZapperZ
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OK. Let's backtrack a little bit and make sure EVERYONE remembers that, per https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=5374", providing LINKS to crackpot website is not allowed!

The next person to do this here will NOT have a very pleasant consequence.

Zz.
 
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  • #22
russ_watters
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It strains credulity to call that an "article". "Bad blog post" is probably more accurate.
 
  • #23
uart
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Doh, now I've got a real dilemma. Do I buy shares in "Energetics Technologies" since they already have cold fusion (almost) to a marketable product or "Perendev Power" since they already have perpetual motion magnetic motors (almost) to a marketable stage.

Decisions decisions. :)
 

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